Inhouse SEO Vs. SEO Agency: Which is Right For Your Business?

Inhouse SEO vs. SEO agency is a debate many growing companies have. With search engine optimisation being such a valuable marketing strategy, it can feel like getting it right is make or break. 

Having scaled many brands with our SEO services, there are a few things we’ve learned that you need to know. Here’s what we’ve learned so you can make the right decision for your business. 

Pros of Inhouse SEO

There are a few benefits of in-house SEO. These typically include fast response times and a team that should be dialled into your specific business goals. 

More Detailed Industry Knowledge

In-house SEO teams have a comprehensive understanding of your company’s specific industry, products, and target audience. This expertise enables them to develop tailored and effective SEO strategies. Utilising their knowledge, they produce content that aligns with market demands and incorporates relevant industry-specific keywords and trends.

Their understanding of industry subtleties also allows them to foresee and respond proactively to market shifts. This can be a plus for businesses in complex industries. 

Immediate Feedback Loop

One key benefit of employing an in-house SEO team is the capability to immediately process and apply feedback. This rapid feedback cycle facilitates on-the-spot adjustments based on real-time analytics and insights.

It promotes experimentation with strategies that are specifically designed for your business’s unique requirements and market dynamics. The direct communication among team members ensures that SEO efforts are in sync with the broader business goals.

This integration means that SEO isn’t an isolated task but a core component of the overall marketing strategy, contributing directly to achieving the company’s objectives.

Full-Time Team Available

Having a dedicated, full-time in-house SEO team is seen as a benefit for companies that can afford it. This arrangement allows efficient communication and faster response times. 

It also means that you have in-house SEO specialists ready to give advice as needed. Whether it’s helping the content team write optimised content or the sales team needing analytics data, they’re on hand and available. 

An in-house team focused solely on your business goals can also develop customised and effective strategies. Direct control of your SEO strategy allows for decisions that are consistently aligned with your business’s market strategy. 

Cons of Inhouse SEO

To balance the argument, you also need to be aware of the negatives of in-house SEO. These typically come from the costs of growing a fully functioning SEO team.

Problems of Scalability

Scaling an in-house SEO team poses challenges as your company expands. The workload associated with SEO tasks will grow in both volume and complexity, potentially outgrowing your current team quite quickly.

Recruiting additional team members isn’t just about hiring; it involves an internal hiring process of carefully selecting the right individuals, integrating them effectively into your existing team, and training them swiftly to minimise disruption.

Your team may initially lack specific advanced skills required for effectively tackling new markets or projects, which could hinder your company’s growth and SEO capabilities.

Costly Hiring & Maintenance

Knowing the financial implications is important when you’re considering scaling your in-house SEO team. Hiring skilled SEO professionals involves more than just posting vacancies. It requires substantial recruitment costs, competitive salaries, and appealing benefits packages to attract and retain top talent. It also takes up a manager’s time and resources to hire and train new recruits. 

After hiring, the expenses continue because there’s continuous training and management to keep up with constantly changing SEO. Beyond salaries, operational costs accumulate, affecting your total marketing budget. Often, the costs of maintaining an in-house team exceed those of outsourcing to an agency, which usually offers more predictable and consistent expenses.

Workload Balancing Act

Overseeing an in-house SEO team often involves balancing SEO tasks with other marketing duties. This can lead to inefficiencies as team members are split across several tasks (often not SEO-related). This division of focus can slow down SEO progress and complicate the prioritisation of tasks, making it challenging to optimise both areas effectively without compromising quality. 

This often comes from companies not having the budget to build the marketing team they need.   The limited resources and expertise available may not be enough to effectively manage all aspects of both SEO and other marketing initiatives simultaneously. 

Pros of Hiring an SEO Agency

The pros of hiring an SEO agency are access to industry experience and a large team. This can be beneficial for companies that don’t want the hassle or costs associated with hiring a full team. 

Faster Turnaround of Projects

Hiring an SEO agency can significantly speed up your projects due to their specialised team handling multiple tasks simultaneously. Agencies have personnel that can work on key areas like keyword research, technical SEO, and content creation. They can do this as they’ve invested in building a team of multiple skilled SEOs and content creators. 

Their ability to make swift decisions means faster project completion. This can be good for companies in a growth phase and outsourcing decision-making from company politics. 

Advanced Tools and Experience

Agencies utilise advanced SEO tools such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Screaming Frog, amongst many more. This suite of tools enables them to analyse and improve your website’s performance. These tools aren’t cheap. If you have several tools the costs add up. Plus, the time it takes to stay up to date with the latest features. 

An agency’s experience across various industries allows them to quickly identify issues and solutions. They stay updated with the latest Google algorithm changes and SEO developments which can take considerable time. 

Access to a Team of SEO Experts

Partnering with an SEO agency offers the advantage of accessing a team of seasoned experts. This team includes consultants, strategists, content specialists, and analysts. Each expert contributes specialised skills that you get access to. If you work with an established agency, they’ve seen and done it before. The collective expertise of a large SEO team likely far outweighs the team most companies can build. 

This access not only improves your SEO efforts with advanced tools and software but also includes valuable insights and detailed competitor analysis. These elements mean decision-making backed by experience and data. 

SEO Agency Cons

The cons of an SEO agency typically come from a lack of control and also trying to find an agency that matches your experience. 

Less Day to Day Control

Part of working with an SEO agency is understanding that you’re going to have less day-to-day oversight of campaigns. Making real-time adjustments becomes challenging without direct control. You’re placing trust in the agency to do this on your behalf. 

Communication barriers between your business and the agency might also impede effective campaign management. This shift away from the consistent involvement you get with an in-house team can make it difficult to ensure that every element of your SEO strategy is fully aligned with your overall business goals.

Lack of Quality Control

Choosing an SEO agency is also relinquishing an element of quality control due to the lack of direct oversight that in-house teams typically provide. This lack of close supervision can lead to things potentially not aligning with your specific standards and expectations.

Agencies, handling multiple clients simultaneously, may not dedicate sufficient focus and attention to each project. This can affect the quality and effectiveness of your SEO strategies if you’re with the wrong agency. One easy way around this is to have the final say in the publication of content and any major changes. This is something that most agencies should offer as a standard. 

Misaligned Goals

SEO agencies sometimes pursue goals that differ slightly from those of your business. It could be building traffic that doesn’t convert or not quite showcasing your brand in the right light. If an agency doesn’t fully understand your brand’s unique aspects and target demographic, it could result in going in different directions. 

Comparing the Costs and ROI

A big consideration for most companies is the cost of SEO. When comparing the costs and ROI of in-house SEO vs. SEO agency, there are a few things you need to consider. 

In-house SEO involves higher initial costs due to recruitment, salaries, and training, but these costs may lead to long-term savings by eliminating recurring agency fees.

An SEO agency might deliver immediate cost-effectiveness, charging only for specific services and reducing the overhead associated with an internal team. Agencies also bring specialised expertise and efficient strategies that often yield a higher ROI.

The cost is also dependent on the needs of the company. For small businesses, it might make more sense to keep things in-house. For medium to enterprise companies costs of in-house SEO start to increase. This is where an SEO agency typically sees more return on investment. 

How to Make the Right Choice

What’s right for one business, might not be right for the other. We recommend that you consider the following points to make the right choice. 

Business Size

Assess the size of your business and website to determine the most suitable SEO strategy. Larger businesses may benefit from the extensive resources and expertise of an SEO agency. Agencies can better handle more competitive industries and websites with more pages. 

Smaller businesses might prefer the control and customisation that an in-house SEO specialist provides. This works if you don’t need to produce large amounts of content and are not reliant on organic search traffic. 

Also, consider your budget and ensure that your SEO investment is proportional to your business’s revenue and matches your specific SEO requirements. Whether that involves maintaining basic SEO practices or needing more advanced tactics.

Scalability

An in-house team may face difficulties scaling up due to constraints in resources and recruitment. It’s essential to not only increase the number of team members but to ensure they’re the right fit, which can be a slow process.

Working with an SEO agency typically allows for greater flexibility. Agencies maintain a pool of professionals who can swiftly adapt to your growing requirements. They can scale their efforts or alter strategies quickly, bypassing the delays of hiring additional in-house personnel. 

This also works the other way. If your business needs to scale down it’s a lot easier to reduce agency spending to save money. 

Budget Constraints

Establishing an in-house team involves substantial costs such as salaries, employee benefits, and other overheads, which can be expensive for small to medium-sized enterprises.

An SEO agency can be more cost-effective due to its scalability and the flexibility to adjust spending based on performance and results. This option is particularly beneficial for businesses experiencing seasonal fluctuations in SEO demands or those exploring new markets. The decision should be guided by the organisation’s financial limits and strategic goals to ensure the sustainability of SEO efforts and avoid budgetary overreach.

Hiring and Training

Building an in-house team involves significant recruitment costs and requires ongoing investment in training to keep pace with SEO developments. This can give you more control and cultural alignment but may strain resources.

Hiring an SEO agency can be more economical in the short term. Agencies provide a team that’s already diverse and experienced, continuously updated on the latest SEO strategies at no additional cost to you.

Although an agency may offer quicker results and less operational hassle, it mightn’t integrate as seamlessly with your company’s specific culture and long-term strategic vision. Assess your company’s needs, resources, and strategic goals carefully to determine the most suitable option.

Want to Work with an Experienced Agency?

Considering a partnership with Prosperity Media? By choosing us, you get access to our deep expertise in SEO. As a leading SEO agency in Australia, we ensure your business not only gains visibility but generates leads. 

We host Australia’s largest SEO conference shows with the latest, most effective strategies and technologies. Not many other SEO companies have this level of industry standing. 

Benefit from our extensive network and make your business the top choice for clients. If you’re ready for measurable improvements and committed support, contact us today. Let’s work together to grow your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is in-house SEO?

In-house SEO involves having a dedicated team within your company that handles all aspects of search engine optimisation. This team is employed directly by your business.

What is an SEO agency?

An SEO agency is an external company that specialises in providing SEO services to various clients. They have a team of experts who work on optimising your website and improving your search rankings.

Can I use both in-house SEO and an SEO agency?

Yes, many businesses use a hybrid approach, leveraging the strengths of both in-house teams and external agencies to maximise their SEO efforts.

What Is the Difference Between Agency and Inhouse?

The difference is that the inhouse team is employed by the company their working for. Whereas an agency is contracted to multiple companies. Each option impacts control, costs, and expertise, tailoring to what best aligns with your business’s unique needs.

Are SEO Agencies Worth It?

Yes, SEO agencies are worth it if you’re seeking expertise, variety in services, and efficiency. They bring specialised skills and tools that can greatly enhance your webiste and achieve faster results.

 

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Matthew Barby, Senior Director of Acquisition at HubSpot

"Whenever I have companies ask me if there are any great agencies in Australia, I always point them to Prosperity Media. James and team are always pushing out incredibly impactful work, and their depth of knowledge around SEO and content marketing is up there with the best in the world."

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